Monday, 16 December 2013

DIY Kid's Art Display

Noah still has a blank space on his wall that was driving me nuts. He also has a large pile of crafts he brings home from preschool and coloring pages we do at home. I allow myself to recycle some things, I have to. Our fridge is becoming a display board for his work, and we're running out of room (not to mention how chaotic it's looking) So I came up with a solution for his room to display his art proudly.

I found a perfect sized board in the basement

I painted on some chalkboard paint. Please note I've had this jar of paint for 3 years now. I've used it several times and it's still in great condition.

I used a hot glue gun to glue on some clothespins.

Ta da !!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A Very Grinchy Christmas

If you're a fan of the Grinch (seriously who isn't) then you'll love this post! So many of the Christmas decorations I see lately are very "Grinchy". Greens, pinks, reds and lots of sparkle.

Friends of mine built and created a "Whoville Road Sign".

They cut wood into arrow shapes, painted them and traced on the words. They printed out the words on paper, laid the paper over the boards and traced the words on and indented them into the wood. Then they painted the words on over the indentations.

They laid a red tree skirt over the bottom of the stand.

 Ta da !!

They inspired me to look into some other Grinch themed decor. Lime greens, sparkle and crooked trees. Here is some inspiration!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Guest Post - Estoy aquí!

Amy Hawke writes from her cozy London flat, sharing her life experiences on my blog for the second time. You can catch up to her by reading her previous entry here

Estoy aquí!
If home is where the heart is then my heart lives in two places, neither of which I presently call home. Rather, I physically sit and write this from a lovely flat nestled on the edge of London Fields.

London Fields is a gem of a place in the heart of London’s East End. I moved here in August with two amazing ladies and we spent summer evenings BBQ’ing on our terrace, watching the sun set over the West End of London. The weekends have been dedicated to exploring our new hood; eating delicious food from Broadway Market, shopping for the weeks ‘fruit and veg’ from our local farmers market, testing watering holes and restaurants, rummaging through vintage shops and taking in all the amazing street art. I’ve spent my morning running along Regents canal and through beautiful Victoria Park, with chilly nights spent snuggled into the living room. Its home, for right now.

I have been away from heart home #1 – Five Trees Lane – for two years, always making it home for the holidays. If I’m being honest, October, November and December are the hardest months of the year to get through if your heart is living in two places and you are living in another. October marks the official start to the Hawke/Mercer/Westaway family birthday season – 6 in 3 months (not to mention the friends birthdays!). There is Thanksgiving to get through (Jenny Hawke makes a mean roast potato), Remembrance Day, the first snow fall and the motherload – Christmas.

This year I spent Thanksgiving with a great group of friends. We cooked a great meal at ‘home’ and I even took a stab at Jenny’s famous roast potatoes – passing on the joy of the roasted spud to our guests. I have also decided to take a leap of faith and spend Christmas in heart home #2 – with Andy in Granada. Moving to London has been tough and I beat myself up a lot – but I stayed because I self-imposed a trawling of the soul when I left home. Like the ghost of Christmas Present in a Muppets Christmas Carol, I have invited myself in (here) because I need to get to know myself better man! The longing and sad moments have changed to grateful, loving movements and I want to constantly feel those good emotions in whichever place and space I am. Longing for home #1 or #2 isn’t going to bring me closer to those feelings of wellbeing – it separates me from my heart which calls me home.

So, instead of longing for what I had, I’ve started to revel in the joys of what I have, thinking outside of the box to be present when I am away. I’m grateful to my family, friends and Andy who have embraced me, making a home away from home and have encouraged me to be here now. It’s become so crystal clear that if you carry home in your heart you’ll always be right with where you are.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Guest Post - Shutterfly's Helpful Hints for Holiday Cards

I was beyond thrilled when I was contacted by Shutterfly to partner up and share some of their Holiday card ideas with my readers!
Heather Hewitt has written some great tips for creating the perfect greeting card.

Tips for
Using Embellishments on Your Holiday Cards 

It’s hard to believe, but it’s time to begin thinking about your Christmas card for this holiday season. If you’re a veteran card maker, then you know the importance of embellishments – that is, those decorative accents or details added to make something more attractive. But what about the newbie card maker who wants to give it a shot this holiday season? DIY projects can often be exciting, but intimidating if you’re venturing into a new area of craft. The best way to test the waters of DIY card making is to simply order your holiday cards online, and then add embellishments to the existing design. Simply use these helpful tips on card making to get started: 

  • Understand your options. When you’re first starting out, it’s important to know what materials are out there – and how to use them. Visit your local craft store; there will likely be an entire row or section dedicated to scrapbooking and card making. In addition to the basics like cardstock, tape/glue, and scissors, you will want to see which embellishments match your cards’ theme and colors. Embellishment options often include: 
  • Stickers 
  • Expression tags 
  • Ribbons 
  • Washi tape 
  • Glitter and sparkles 
  • Labels 
  • Jewels 
  • And more!  
  • Pay attention to the Rule of Uneven Numbers. According to visual experts, using embellishments in clusters of odd numbers – 1, 3, 5, etc. – brings balance to your design and is appealing to the eye.   
  • Create layers. Cut unique shapes from your papers and layer a variety of colors, shapes, and embellishments to add depth to your cards.   
  • Don’t waste. Use leftover scraps! You may not think you will use a small bit of ribbon or a one-off jewel or button, but you never know when they’ll fit right into a design you’re creating.  
  • Remember that less is often more. You don’t want your cards to become overly crowded or weighed down with embellishments. The eye needs a place to focus – if there is too much going on visually, it can’t.  
  • Get outside your box. For creativity to bloom, don’t limit yourself. In other words, don’t just stick to the same ol’ embellishments. Use fabric or take an object and use it differently than you have before. For instance, try creating flower petals by positioning several mini-safety pins on the page in the shape of a flower. Let your imagination run wild! 

The most important tip for DIY card making is to start with the end in mind, making sure that once you add your embellishments it still fits into the envelope. When ordering photo cards, be sure to note the final size of the card you order and plan accordingly. If you think you’re going to add layers for a border, this will increase the size and you will need larger envelopes – you may be able to request a sample envelope for sizing or request the next size envelope with your purchase. Also, keep in mind the amount and type of embellishments, as heavier objects or a lot of them – will add weight to your card and may increase the postage. 

If you’re new to card making, hopefully you will find these tips for using embellishments helpful. Adding embellishments to pre-ordered photo cards will certainly add a personal touch without giving yourself too much like creating something completely from scratch. This also gives you the opportunity to gauge your level of craftiness and desire to spruce up next year’s cards. Or you might just find that ordering your holiday cards online and adding embellishments might just be the perfect compromise. 

Author Bio: Heather Hewitt is a seasoned writer and guest author who enjoys connecting people with thoughtful products, services and ideas as they relate to crafting, photography, gift giving and personal expression.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Our Elf on the Shelf is BACK

Our Elf on the Shelf, Sarah returned last night while we were sleeping. She was a little late this year due to some misbehaving kids. She still looks as creepy as she did last year, and she's lost her skirt. I'm not surprised, remembering the naughty activities she took part in last Christmas. Riding around in Barbie's corvette with Ken, messing up my makeup, and playing Modern Warfare on the Xbox (What would Santa think?!).

She was kind enough to bring us waffles for breakfast, and set our table in our best Christmas place mats. I made her a new skirt from a coffee filter and we welcomed her back with a celebratory breakfast!

My kids are thrilled, I've got loads of Elf ideas thanks to Pinterest and Mike pretended to drop her only twice so far. We're so ready. Now begins our month of Elf !

If you have an Elf, how did they return?

Monday, 2 December 2013

Christmas Family Traditions

I've mentioned before that I'm big on Family Traditions, especially at Christmas. It's the perfect time of year to create new traditions and celebrate old ones. It's part of how we celebrate the season as a family and we look forward to them every year. Aside from the regular Christmas movie marathons, hot chocolate drinking,snowman making, and present wrapping, these are just a few of the Holiday Traditions we've celebrated over the years.

Advent Calendars
Every December 1, our kids break out their Advent Calendars! It's fun to pick out different themed calendars each year.

Christmas Light-up
We bundle up and attend our town's annual Downtown Christmas Light-up. It symbolizes the beginning of the Christmas season and It usually inspires me to start putting up our Christmas lights that same weekend.

Gingerbread House Competition

Every year we set up a few houses and host a competition. Kids love this!

Decorating our tree
The last few years we've always decorated our tree after the girl's Christmas concerts. It's nice to continue the Christmas spirit into the evening. We decorate sugar cookies, have hot chocolate and then hang all our ornaments on the tree.

Elf on the Shelf 
Our Elf, Sarah was our newest tradition from last year. She hasn't arrived yet, and the kids can't wait to start sharing our Holidays with her. 

Mike and I have our own traditions we share as well. It's a busy time of year for us as parents, and we seem to be so busy making sure our kids are enjoying this time of year that sometimes we don't take the time to enjoy the holiday season ourselves.

Each year we set aside just 1 day for our Christmas shopping. We arrange babysitters, make a list and brave the stores to collect all our gifts. We enjoy some of my favorite things. Eating out, shopping and being with just my husband amidst Christmas cheer! All while following an organized list (which I love)

On Christmas Eve, once Mike and I settle all the kids into bed, we tune into "It's A Wonderful Life", have a cup of tea and set up for Christmas morning. It's our way of winding down after a busy evening and enjoy planning the excitement that will arise the next day!

I'd love to hear of some your Christmas traditions!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Activity bag on the go

With 4 kids, we have a lot of extra curricular activities going on this fall. Basketball, swimming lessons, girl guides, dance class and the list goes on. Most of these activities happen in the evenings, when my husband is working, so I have to drag all the kids with me to each activity. I learned the hard way that entertaining all the kids, trying to watch my kid's activity and feeding them supper on time before we leave is impossible. So is trying to pack a bag of distractions and snacks every day as we are running out the door.

Solution = activity/snack bag left in the van.

I filled a bag with non-perishable snacks (goldfish, granola bars), drinks(juice packs, bottles of water) and activities(coloring books,stickers,cards) and left it in the trunk of the van. I know it will be there to whip out when we're at the pool, gym or dance hall and I need something to keep the other kids busy once they're sick of watching their sibling in action. I'll check it every few days to see what needs replenishing. It saves me a lot of extra planning and packing and even a little sanity :)

Monday, 25 November 2013

My crazy toddler is still crazy

Remember when I wrote honestly about my crazy toddler? I thought it would pass as he got older. It didn't, it got worse.
I was right about the gender differences, he is a complete opposite of his older sisters. They all went through the "Terrible 2's" but in a gentler way. Despite growing up with princess dresses and tea parties (which he thoroughly enjoys) he's a total boy through and through.
His pastimes still include throwing dinkies, but now he's graduated to larger and more destructive objects, like dollhouses, dump trucks and clementines (these might not be larger, but they definitely are messier).
His sleeping patterns have improved. He no longer wakes up at the crack of dawn, but he does have a new outlook on bedtime. As in, it doesn't exist. His new response to everything is "nebah ebah" (never ever).

Knocking on the door and throwing snowballs at me when I answer.

Noah has his own belief system of how our house should be run.

He believes if there is a pile of something (laundry, books, blankets) they should be thrown sporadically throughout the house.
He believes the toilet should be flushed every 3 minutes, over and over again.
He believes every light in the house should be turned on, then off, then on, then off.
He believes my walls look better with marker on it than paper does.


He easily goes from good (hugs, kisses,quiet voice) to bad (screaming, pushing, throwing dinkies) and sometimes a smile will accompany his face. I've noticed he gets enjoyment out of playfully bothering others and seeing their reaction. This trait is most definitely passed down from his father. When Noah gets older I shudder at the thought of the tag team that could aspire.

Throughout all this destruction, I must remember that he's still my one and only little boy who warms my heart with his smile, singing, and "I love yous". Somedays It's a big struggle to remember that. Somedays I'm more concerned about the state of my playroom, my walls and my power bill. Somedays I just want him to play quietly, leave my lights alone, and go to bed before 9pm.

And don't even get me started on potty training. "Nebah Ebah!!".

Monday, 18 November 2013

Almost Christmas Decorating

I like to take my time when it comes to Christmas decorations. Right now I bring out winter themed decor like snowmen, snowflakes, and white lights. It's my way of easing into the cold, winter season. But once December 1st hits, out come the Santas, elves and reindeer!
Here are a few cute and easy Winter decorations I wanted to share.

My aunt would make these snowflake cans every year. Unfortunately I have none left to show off, but the crafty people at Color Buzz did. Simply take an old tin can, nail in some holes and paint on some snowflakes. Toss in a tea light or battery operated votive and you've created a warm and festive light.

My no-hassle version of these cans this year is from the Scentsy collection. A gorgeous plug-in warmer that lights up and fills my house with delicious aromas.

My step-mother used to make Ice Candles for our holiday parties. They lined our walkway lighting the way for our guests and I always thought they looked so neat all lit up in the snow. It's basically a large ice cream container full of frozen water and a candle. You can find an easy tutorial here.

 How cute is this? Turn your closet door (or any door) into a friendly snowman. With a little felt and 2-sided tape my crafty friend added some seasonal cheer to her kitchen.

Every year I throw this together to create a snowy scene on our front step. I added some winter accents from Dollarama and glued on a festive bow.
Adding white battery operated lights really tops it off, and they came with timers so they turn on when it gets dark and turn off at bedtime. I didn't have to worry about remembering to plug them in, or go out in the cold to turn them off late at night. I like easy things.

Happy Winter !

Friday, 15 November 2013

Friday Fun Snack - Mini Apple Crisps

I'm told I make pretty good apple crisp. I thought it'd be fun to whip up some kid sized crisps for this week's kid's snack. It was more than easy, fun and a huge hit with my family!

I made them using muffin pans so they were kid-sized and used the liners as little plates.

What you need

3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Oats
1/3 cup Butter

Apples (I used 4 for this batch)

How you make it

Mix topping ingredients
Line the muffin pan with liners
Cut up apples into small pieces and fill liners with them
Sprinkle Cinnamon/Nutmeg on top
Cover apples with topping

Bake @ 350 for 20 minutes and Enjoy!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Why my kids wear poppies

One day a year I stick little red flowers with pointy pins on my kids coats, bundle them up and stand outside for our town's Remembrance Day Parade and Ceremony.This year it was dark and rainy, we were wet and cold and thankfully I had to only raise my voice once. Secretly I was kind of relieved when we left and I could take the kids home, but it's an event that I'll never miss, and that I'll always take my kids to.

Remembrance Day isn't just a holiday off from work or school, it's a day that we're given to take time to celebrate and remember. It's important to me that my kids know what this day is for. Whatever it takes for them to realize the significance of this day, I'll make them do it. If it means they have to stand outside in the cold listening to bagpipes, old people recite poems and constantly stab themselves in the shoulder with a poppy pin they will.
My grandfather fought proudly in the war along with many other of our family members. We have several relatives and friends who continue to serve our country and keep us safe. It's important that my kids recognize their sacrifices and learn some history about it. They're fortunate to belong to amazing schools who recognize Remembrance Day, teach the kids what it's about and host a ceremony for them each year.

Noah is only 2 and he has no idea why I've stuck this pretty flower on his coat, and why everyone was placing theirs on the monument, but he will someday. He knew it was important and that's what he was supposed to do and no doubt he'll remember to do that next year.

Happy Monday!
Enjoy this day with your family :)

Friday, 8 November 2013

Friday Fun Snack-Fun Pancakes

While driving my 9 year old to school this morning she asked me, "What's for Fun Friday Snack today?" S#@T! I had no snack planned for today. I had completely forgotten. After scanning my cupboards for a quick snack that would be fun and entertaining I found some leftover pancakes that I had tossed in the freezer for a quick snack. Genius. I had whipped cream and strawberries to go along with them and since we're already starting to get into the Christmas spirit...this is what we came up with.
Here's a great way to add some fun (and holiday cheer) to your everyday pancakes!

Who doesn't love a little Santa Clause?
Happy Weekend!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Why cereal for supper rocks

After an exhausting day of parenting, chauffeuring, cleaning, laundering and cooking, my kids whined "what's for supper". This is where my friend cereal comes into play.
My kids love cereal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedsnack.

There are days when Mike is working and I only need to feed myself and the kids, and on these days cereal makes a great meal choice. Why not? It's much healthier than ordering a pizza and mixing it with milk gives them their daily dose of calcium. Not to mention how easy it is to prepare.
Also, parental brownie points are awarded heavily when you break the news to your kids that you are allowing them to actually eat just cereal for supper !!

If you do choose to follow my exceptional parenting...

Here's some ways to step up plain boring cereal:

Mix it up. Who says you need to have just one kind of cereal at once?

Use a fancy bowl. It makes any meal look fabulous and fun.

Check out these cute animal bowls from Ebay

Be Crafty. Afterwards, use your empty cereal boxes to make super cool crafts.

How about this awesome village from Super Fun Kids Crafts

I actually came across a mom who threw her daughter a "cereal themed"  Birthday Party.

Happy Monday!!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Friday Fun Snack - Spider Chocolate Chip Cookies

I hope everyone's Halloween was a success! We dressed in our costumes, ran from door to door and collected bags full of goodies! Yesterday we made these cookies for Halloween but I still wanted to share them today. Aside from Halloween you can still make these any day. Maybe your kid has a thing for insects? ( thankfully mine do not) or simply as a fun way to spice up your kid's lunchbox.

What you need
I used my everyday Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that I posted for a previous Friday Fun Snack.
Make sure to set a handful of chocolate chips aside to use later for the bug legs.

How you make them
After you mix up your dough and your cookies are baking, melt the chocolate chips you saved and put them in a frosting bag or a simple ziploc bag and cut a very small hole in the end corner.
While your cookies are still warm in the oven, take them out and place a chocolate chip upside down in the cookie (flat side up) this will be the "bug body". Bake the cookies for just a few more minutes.
Once the cookies are cool use your bag of melted chips to draw legs on the bugs.

So very simple!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Halloween Treat ideas and Trick or Treating Prep

When it comes to Trick-or-treating, I like to switch things up a bit. Instead of the expected candy bar and pop, I like to give out more healthier treats. Kids need proper hydration and nutrition on Halloween night. With all the walking, door knocking, sweating (in hot costumes) and sugar consuming it's nice to give them a little something to help keep them going all evening. It's also convenient to have healthy snacks for packing lunches the rest of the week.
Some great ideas for drinks are mini bottles of water or juice packs. Snacks can be granola bars, small sized apples, goldfish or a clementine. All of these are still just as cheap as buying a box of of mini chocolate bars. My kids actually get excited when they see a snack like this because they know they can eat it right away if they want, and they get thirsty often throughout the night so they know they can grab a drink when they see one.

Goldfish now come in fun Halloween themes

Draw jack-o-lantern faces on clementines to be festive

Halloween night is busy and exhausting but lots of fun for the whole family! Here are a few tips we follow to make sure our night is a success.

Eat a good supper - We all get together and eat a good meal so we've all got full bellies and lots of energy.
Plan out a route - We live in the country, and we like to trick or treat on foot, so we always go into town where houses are closer together and there are sidewalks. We all have select houses and neighborhoods we want to visit, so we make sure to plan out where we are going. We usually trick or treat on foot first in a familiar neighborhood and then drive to visit other friends and family around town.
Wear comfy footwear - heels might go with their costume, but my kids are wearing sneakers regardless. We do alot of walking and I'm not carrying anyone.
Bring extra layers or rain gear. Our weather changes every 5 minutes and we have no time to pause this game and run home.

4 more days until Halloween !!!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Friday Fun Snack - Caramel Corn Class Treats

Nothing says fall like Caramel Corn. If your kids like popcorn, this is the same except it's dipped in gallons of sugar, and it tastes so good.
Caramel Corn is fun and easy to make. You can be creative and add some extras to it or have it plain. I've mixed in nuts, pretzels, chocolate chips, and marshmallows. It's easy to bag up and store for snacks on the go, or giving away as treat bags for a party or gift.

I made some for my kids to take to school for their Halloween parties. I used cute Halloween baggies and mixed in some chocolate chips, marshmallows and pretzels.

What you need

1/2 Bag popcorn kernels
1 cup Butter
1 cups Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Corn Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Baking Soda

How you make it

Pop the popcorn
Pick out the un-popped kernels
Mix butter,brown sugar, and corn syrup and boil for 3 minutes (stirring constantly)
Remove from heat and add Vanilla and Baking Soda and stir
Pour over popcorn and stir
Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes @ 250 degrees


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Halloween Costume Ideas - Couples

Countdown to Halloween continues!
I've always enjoyed finding costumes for my kids, but never really put much effort into my own. I basically just grab whatever we have in our "tickle trunk". But lately Mike and I have been taking Halloween costumes more seriously and dressing up in couples costumes. They're fun to think up and people usually get a laugh out of them. Here are some of our previous costumes and some pretty great inspirations for next year!

We recreated the famous picture of the sailor and nurse from NYC

What's a ghostbuster without a ghost?

Our grand-in-laws - our kids loved it

You might find us wearing these next year.

Looking for a classroom snack idea for your kids to take to school? Come back tomorrow for Friday's Fun Snack and see what I cooked up!

7 days till Halloween!
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